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Volume 113: debated on Wednesday 25 March 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will set out the details of the different systems by which prescriptions are dispensed and charges collected through (a) doctors and (b) pharmacists; what is the estimated effect on revenue (i) in the United Kingdom and (ii) in Gwynedd of the present system; if he will introduce the same system for doctors as for pharmacists; and if he will make a statement.

Pharmacists dispense prescriptions on payment of the appropriate charge, unless a declaration that the patient is entitled to be exempted from paying the charge has been completed and signed. Pharmacists retain the charges collected and the sum involved is subsequently deducted from their remuneration.Dispensing doctors dispense prescriptions on payment of the appropriate charge, unless the patient has declared that he or she is entitled to be exempted from paying the charge. It is for the doctor to decide whether an oral declaration will suffice. Dispensing doctors remit the charges they collect to family practitioner committees at monthly intervals.We have no plans to change these arrangements.

The total prescription charge income for England in 1985–86 was £127·756 million which includes prescription charge income from dispensing doctors of £7·07 million. It is estimated that, in 1985–86, £5·8 million of income was not collected as a result of incorrect claims to exemption. It is not possible to break this figure down between pharmacists and dispensing doctors.

For Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the information sought is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend, the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Wales arid Northern Ireland.